THE Warrington Health Forum has been running for more than five years and is attended by volunteer members who represent the various community and third sector groups in Warrington, including Healthwatch, Warrington Voluntary Action, patient participation groups and public governors from the town’s healthcare providers.

The Health Forum provides a valuable service to the town in ensuring that the patient voice is always at the centre of all the decision making around local health care services. It is not a public meeting or a meeting held in public, it is a constituted group.

That said, over the years we have welcomed new members who wish to contribute to the discussions and work.

Unfortunately, the July Health Forum meeting had to be abandoned due to the attendance of a number of individuals who were not members or local people.

These individuals attended to protest against the privatisation of the NHS, making reference to the Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ‘My Choice’ scheme.

The protestors were advised that they were welcome to attend but were asked to be respectful and allow the discussions to continue.

Disappointingly, the protestors continued to be disruptive, abusive and behaved in an unacceptable manner to the volunteer health forum members, calling them Nazis and other abusive names.

Taking into consideration the safety and wellbeing of the Health Forum members, the chair of the forum took the decision to abandon.

The chair only took this action to protect the volunteer members that were in attendance, some of which were shaken by the events. The chair was himself subject to the most aggressive and abusive verbal attack from the protesters.

The same protestors again attempted to attend the Warrington Health Forum on September 30. Given the unacceptable and aggressive behaviour at the July meeting and taking into consideration the safety, health and wellbeing of the volunteer members, access was refused.

MARIA AUSTIN Chief of public affairs and engagement, Warrington CCG